I've decided to buy out my lease, in cash, not refi into a loan - curious what effect this will have on my credit?
Your score will jump once you do the buy out. Generally people refi to keep adding to payment history and continually build their score.
I probably sould have put more info in my post ... no realy need to continue to build my credit (well, from auto loans at least - util is hurting me the most), I'm in the very high 600 range/low 700s, depending on bureau, but only because of high-ish util, which i'm rapidly paying down. I've had several auto leases and loans, paid as agreed. Refi'd a few leases into loans, just never paid one off in cash. I like the car and want to keep it for a few years, and am excited to try the "no car payments" thing for awhile.
Because the lease is still considered as an installment loan on your credit report paying it off and closing it will have a negligible effect on your credit score itself. What it will do is remain as a positive trade line for about 10 years. And the reduction in debt payments on a monthly basis (no car payment) while not having a direct impact on your credit score will have a dramatic increase in your financial well being score. Congratulations on being able to do that. You must be managing your money well.